Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger's syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonymsRose Howard has OCD, Asperger's syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (reign, rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose's father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn't have much patience for his special-needs daughter. Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose's father shouldn't have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.
Rain Reign is insightful and emotional, and at times melancholy. This is the story of a smart young girl and how she sees the world before, during, and after the disappearance of her beloved dog.
Rose is a very intriguing narrator. Now, I can't speak as an authority on children with Asperger's/autism or OCD (even though I did once work as a behavoural interventionist), but Rose's voice sounds very authentic. She sounds very matter of fact, a young girl without guile or artifice, unable to lie or pick up on subtle clues in certain social situations. She has her routines, her preferences, her likes and dislikes. She has her meltdowns and her struggles. But throughout the story she grows, she learns, and that's what's important.
It's easy to support Rose, given her relationship with her father. It's not that he's given up, but he's very much a man who doesn't understand and, to be honest, doesn't want to understand Rose's diagnosis. He sees it as her just not paying attention, her acting out, when it's not. Telling her to stop won't make it better and he refuses to try another method. It makes me wonder if the departure of his wife and Rose's mother left him depressed.
Before I read this I thought back to when I was a kid and devoured the Babysitters Club books, and I wondered if I'd be able to separate the two. But then Rose completely took over and her story filled my mind. This is her story and she shines in it. A definite must read for kids and parents alike and for those who enjoy unique characters.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can't really sing. InsteadCallie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can't really sing. Instead she's the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
Drama is funny and sweet, a wonderfully drawn and told story. It's an entertaining look at friendship, young love, crushes, and what goes on backstage during a middle school theatre production. No matter what's going on, onstage or offstage, there's bound to be drama.
Callie is kind, creative, smart. She's so excited about being part of the stage crew, she's got so many ideas on how it could be the best production ever. But like any kid with ideas, like any person in general with ideas and hopes and dreams, she's stuck because of that tunnel-vision. She can only see what she's aiming for, gathering in the people and things around her, when looking at the bigger picture might be better. But that's what happens when you're a kid, when you're devoted 24/7 to something and you want the world to see it. Obstacles? Challenges? Drama? Everything will work out. Until it doesn't.
What's fun and interesting about this book is as much as it's about Callie and her ideas, it's about her and her relationships with her friends and family. Being friends, having crushes, getting nervous around boys and girls, not understanding their actions and decisions when they sort of ruin things. At this age, it's all one big mess of hope, excitement, and developing hormones. And it's all anchored by Raina's bright, clear, realistic artwork.
Rare in middle grade fiction is the book that includes and semi-focuses LGBTQ characters. But why is that? There are coming out stories told by people who knew when they were young that they were gay. It's not something you realize when you hit high school or college. So why aren't there more middle grade books for those kids who are starting to realize they don't have crushes on kids of the opposite gender? Or that they have crushes on both? It's a bit easy for the kids in this book, they aren't hated or avoided because it's discovered that they're gay. Sometimes it is, sometimes the people close to you accept it and continue on, but other times it's not that simple. It's far more painful and frightening.
There's something about this book that screams fun and excitement. There are hard times, yes. Nothing is perfect. There were bound to be fires to put out. Just look at the title.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)...more
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky,Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.
Sisters is fun, funny, and realistic. Not necessarily continuing on from Smile but certainly continuing on telling stories from her years growing up in San Francisco, this book shows the highlights and lowlights of growing up with siblings.
Raina and Amara are sisters with about five years between them. When she was little, Raina had it all planned out. One day she'd have a sister and they'd play together, they'd enjoy doing the same things, and they'd hang out together. It would be awesome. But things didn't really work out as she'd hoped. Instead, what Raina gets is Amara, a stubborn girl who doesn't always sugarcoat what she says and loves gross things like snakes. You'd think they'd finally bridge the gap between them through drawing and art, but no.
I really like Raina's artwork. A fair amount of the story comes across in the different expressions on the faces of her and her siblings and parents. When they're excited, angry, sad, confused, worried. Everyone has depth. The travel backgrounds are also amazing, the glimpses of the Rocky Mountains and the hot desert her mom drives them through. And it was easy to tell which was their present day road trip and which was flashbacks to a younger Raina, how Amara came into her life, how their relationship developed over those early years.
I found this to be an honest and authentic look at Raina's relationship with her younger sister. As I read this I was reminded of my own childhood with my own sister. The fights we would have, the differences between us. Looking back now I realize a lot of that stemmed from us being different people, but you never think about that when you're younger. You just wonder why they don't like the same things you do. They're your sibling. You have the same parents. They're supposed to like the same things, right? This book is definitely a must read for fans of Raina's previous books and for anyone who's ever had to 'put up' with a troublesome sibling (or sibling-type person).
(I received a copy of this book from Scholastic Canada.)...more
This quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager. Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, anThis quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager. Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, and captions, The Isobel Journal offers a unique glimpse into the creative life of eighteen-year-old Isobel, just a northern girl from where nothing really happens.
The Isobel Journal is a collection of honest observations by a teenage girl from the North West of England. This is how she sees her family, her friends, life, love, and herself in a place "where nothing really happens," all in a mixture of drawings, photographs, and little one-line stories.
The textual side is rather brief, a few words on most pages describing what's presented to the reader. But some provide insight into how she sees the world, whether it be about what she wants to be in the future or what it feels like to be in love. I found the parts where she talks about her likes of vintage clothing and records and indie music interesting. She doesn't apologize for liking them, but at the same time wonders how other people will see her. It's a curious mix of confidence in being who you are, being different, and shame at being different from someone who might not share your interests. That seems to sum up life right there: wanting to be an individual while not wanting others to see you as strange or different.
The visual side is a mixture of pencil or coloured pencil drawings and photographs. The pencil lines can be thick at times but her drawings are by no means crude. They're just as honest as her words. The book contains a wonderful collection of faces, all different, all characters in their own right.
It was refreshing to read this look into a teenager's life, to read her thoughts, her likes and dislikes. It was like a glimpse into a journal you would normally keep secret, tucked away in a drawer or under a pillow....more
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide wheGraduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way... until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is a dark, intelligent, layered coming of age. Through Glory's eyes we see glimpses of a near and dangerous future and how those glimpses change how she sees the world, how she sees the people around her. This is a definite must-read because of current discussions regarding feminism, equality, and women's rights.
Fresh out of high school, the world is there for Glory to take, to seize. The possibilities are endless. But how can they be when she knows what's coming? Can she still live her life, a happy one? A normal one? Or is the future to bleak?
I find it hard to review this like any other book I would review here. I could talk about Glory, her lonely life, her disconnect from a number of 'normal teenager things,' but all I can think about is the future Glory sees. That future frightens me, like Karen Healey's When We Wake, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, because it's so believable. This future could very well happen.
But it's not all dark and dismal. There is hope, as there always is, hope that those oppressed won't have to live in exile any longer, that they won't live in fear, that they will one night get more than a couple hours of sleep because they could be kidnapped or killed. It's just a bit hard to see.
I found this to be an extremely culturally-relevant book for the current climate, a book that should be read by all ages and all genders.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)...more
This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything. It's a story about Skylark Martin,This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything. It's a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop in St. Kilda and is trying to find her place in the world. It's about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It's about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It's about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It's about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music. And it's about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.
Girl Defective is honest, painful, and realistic. This book is an eye-opening experience for a number of characters, not just Sky, and a coming of age for her. Everyone is defective in some way, every acts and reacts differently in certain situations. Everyone is different.
Who is Sky? What is the world? She's trying to figure it all out, like why people do what they do. Like why her mom left, why her dad hides in records and beer, why Nancy lives carefree and parties, why her brother Gully won't take off that rubber pig snout, and why Luke is so distant and closed off. She's also trying to figure out herself at the same time, like what she wants to do and who she is. Why she keeps all of her mom's old clothes and leaves semi-cruel messages on her website.
The setting seems perfect for a rude awakening coming of age story. Sky's home, St. Kilda, sounds like it's caught between the past and the future. Slightly crumbling, old, rough around the edges. It's a little hard, a little harsh, but it's realistic and also unique. The record store was also an interested place, a number of important things happen in it and above it in the apartment. It's like a time capsule, where classic rock lives on.
Growing up sucks. It's hard, it's painful. It's something that, when we come up against it, we don't want to do it. But growing up is all about navigating those hard and painful times and, hopefully, coming out on the other side. Lessons learned and realized. I think that's what this book is for Sky. She's coming face to face with the idea that things aren't perfect, that people aren't always who she thought they were. That you can't keep things from changing.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)...more
When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she's sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she's perWhen 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she's sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she's persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she's a social pariah at her new school in Toronto. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous "MatchMaven," Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One. A cross between Jane Austen's Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina's double life soon has her barely staying awake in class. Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her tanking grades mean a second expulsion?
Playing with Matches is funny, witty, and clever. This is one girl's unexpected journey through the hopeful single Jewish community of Toronto. It has its perks, but it also has it drawbacks, and Raina has to be careful or else everything will fall apart at her feet.
Raina's just trying to survive this new and unwanted life of hers. She's trying to survive her sister's sadness and anger, trying to figure out where she fits in. Trying to figure out how she's suddenly a matchmaker. She's the kind of girl who wants to help out, but most of the time it's because she's been roped into it. She has her negative qualities. She judges nearly everyone at face value, she has secrets in her past that she'd rather stay hidden. But when it comes to family, like Leah, she'll try as hard as she can to make it all better.
She certainly falls into matchmaking by accident. It's certainly not something she'd planned for herself in the future. And it's not easy. It doesn't take her long to realize that it's more than just matching up two single people and hoping they'll have something in common beyond not wanting to be single any longer. You have to know people in certain ways, know what they want and what they don't, know what they really need from a partner, and hope you know someone who will fill that role. Raina has it extra hard because she barely knows these people and because of all the pressure they've put on her to save them from being single. As she says, she's only sixteen. What does she know about dating and romance that they don't?
I thought the pacing was great. It was hard for me to put this down once I started reading. This book was just so much fun to read. The characters, Raina's friends and family, were interesting. They sounded like regular people with regular problems. The Orthodox Jewish community is one I'm not familiar with and I enjoyed reading about it (I'm not Jewish, so I don't feel I can comment on the accuracy of the customs and religion portrayed here). With a clever and trying heroine and a quirky cast of supporting characters, this is definitely a must-read for fans of contemporary stories and realistic fiction.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from ECW Press through NetGalley.)...more
It's 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffeIt's 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she's always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.
Oh Yeah, Audrey! is the story of one girl's day in New York City, her attempt to recreate events from the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany's, and what actually ends up happening.
I'm not so sure that this was the book for me. I thought it would be fun, sweet, and entertaining. At times it was, but other times some things felt too convenient, like some of the people she met. The book takes place over a 24-hour period and doesn't leave much time for character development. I guess I wanted Gemma to be constantly figuring something out, figuring herself out, instead of a slap to the face and a rude awakening.
I'm sure there are some who will enjoy reading this, Audrey Hepburn fans and New York City fans, fans of books where a girl goes on a journey to the big city to find herself. A girl who's making her own decisions. Instead of that, I saw a girl running away, a girl who followed around someone because of what she was given, a girl who was a bit too blinded by the bright city lights and the chance to pretend to be Holly Golightly. Instead of a girl taking charge and having fun, I saw a girl playing dress-up and get strung along by a pretty boy. It had its moments, but again, maybe not the book for me.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Abrams Books through NetGalley.)...more
Gretchen Meyers doesn't know exactly what went wrong, but life in the eleventh grade is beginning to suck. As if having a semi-nudist, food-obsessed fGretchen Meyers doesn't know exactly what went wrong, but life in the eleventh grade is beginning to suck. As if having a semi-nudist, food-obsessed family wasn't awkward enough, she has lost her best friend to the fanatical school swim team, and her chemistry grade is so close to negative digits that only emergency tutoring can save it. So far, so high school. Then James/Dean rolls into her life, also known as her zit-faced chemistry tutor James and his slightly less zit-faced cousin Dean. Kind-hearted rebels without a cause, they draw Gretchen out of classroom hell, and briefly the world seems full of possibility. But everything changes over the course of one awful night. Bewildered by harsh new emotions of grief and love, Gretchen realizes she must now decide who she wants to be and what it means to be loyal.
The Opposite of Geek is emotional, rough, and complicated, all about what it means to be a friend to someone and what it means to be you. To be brave enough to stand up and be the person you want to be and not who others want you to be. To be brave enough to be different.
When the book starts, Gretchen feels her life is spiraling into a big pit of nothing, brought down by her strange family, her growing distant best friend, and her failing chemistry grade. In turn she becomes angry, maybe a little depressed, and she doesn't understand why this is happening to her. She's hit that spot, the one where you start figuring out what you want to do after high school, after college, and what you want doesn't necessarily match up with that plans you had before. Or your parents' plans for you. Or what your teachers are pushing you towards.
It doesn't help Gretchen's tumble into frustration with her parents over her future that her best friend suddenly (to Gretchen) has other interests. Has new friends. Would rather hang out with them. Friends come and go, it's one of those painful parts of life that we just can't avoid. But then James and Dean enter her life, two guys rather different from anyone she knows, two weird guys who give her the chance to escape. And she needs to escape. She needs fresh air, away from the pressure. In a way, they save her.
I found the writing style of the book, the mixture of poetry and prose, to be rather lyrical and expressive. Gretchen's voice is clear, honest, filled with her disappointment, sadness, and happiness. Everything she feels is there on the page for the reader to see. Maybe there were times when Gretchen headed towards whiny and annoying, when her teen angst felt over-done and exaggerated, but then isn't everything over-done and exaggerated when you're a teenager? Doesn't it always feel like the world will end when something doesn't work out? I would recommend this to contemporary YA readers looking for a little poetry with their prose and a lot of reality....more
Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind, things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers, and she has becSixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind, things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers, and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again, which would mean grave danger for them both. When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel, a boy with the ability to teleport, he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.
Chasing Power is a mysterious adventure filled with twists and turns. Deep down, it's all about actions, mistakes, and regrets, about secrets and lies. About how far some will go to obtain power.
Kayla is rather confident in her ability, as weak as it is. Maybe too confident, maybe a bit too cocky and controlling, but she feels she has to be. She's extremely protective of her mother because of what happened in their past and would do anything to keep them safe and away from her father. She's prepared for any dangerous situation that might arise. She sees risk where some wouldn't, like when she first meets Daniel. But things change after they meet, and the world isn't as small or simple as Kayla thought.
As often as it comes up, this book might as well be about secrets, about keeping them and sharing them, and about the frustration they create. There's a lot that Kayla doesn't tell her mother, about her using her power, about Daniel and their trips around the world. It did annoy me at times, how close her and her mother were and yet she wouldn't tell her what was going on. There are some things that her mother kept from her, some rather important secrets, but that doesn't make it better. The fractures in their relationship get longer as the book goes on because neither of them tell the other the truth. Considering how often Kayla's life is in danger, it bothered me that she felt she just couldn't tell her mother.
There are a lot of twists and surprises in this book, maybe too many for my liking. It gets a little complicated, trying to remember who'd finally told Kayla the truth, what was once a lie but wasn't any more, who was coming after her, her mother, and Daniel. But it's still an interesting story. There's a lot of tension as Kayla and Daniel search for the stones, a few life or death situations that I hadn't expected. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this as well.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Bloomsbury through NetGalley.)...more
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. BetweenAlek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek's parents announce that he'll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could've predicted that he'd meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can't believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend, he's barely ever had a girlfriend, but maybe it's time to think again.
One Man Guy is light-hearted, humourous, and fun. The summer starts with Alek predicting boredom and disaster, but it slowly becomes anything but, an adventure into both the city and himself.
Alek seems to have reached the stage where he's trying to figure out who he is, and it pushes against the boundaries of how his traditional Armenian parents have raised him and his older brother. It's not that he hates them or his life, he wants to know what else the world has to offer a fourteen-year-old guy. All the excitement that other teenagers get to experience. Like taking the train into New York City, or shopping somewhere more interesting than the Gap.
I found the relationship between Alek and his parents to be rather interesting. They're traditional, steeped in Armenian culture, and Alek sort of straddles the line between them and 21st century America. It's a bit like the past and present coming together. But not in a hateful or spiteful way, I never got that feeling while reading. There wasn't any cruelty, any disdain. A lot of this book is about understanding, about family and love, and I thought this was a great glimpse into Alek's life, into a culture I rarely see represented in books, TV shows, and movies.
I can see this as a coming of age story, but not necessarily as a coming out story. It's all one story, it's all Alek feeling out of place at the beginning and slowly chipping away at the space he's been given so he fits into it better. It all worked together in a way I don't often see in LGBTQ YA. Alek and Ethan just felt right, it wasn't a grand production, it wasn't surrounded by hatred or fear, it was two teenagers maybe sort of falling in love the way teenagers do.
So much of this book is about family and understanding, about acceptance and love. Alek is pressured by his parents to advance at school, to be the best, but as serious as they are they're also supportive. This was a refreshing and fun read, and if it hadn't ended I would've hoped for more....more
In the town of Jericho, a group of misfit teenagers haunts the underbelly of their society. Armed with the ability to manipulate different parts of naIn the town of Jericho, a group of misfit teenagers haunts the underbelly of their society. Armed with the ability to manipulate different parts of nature, these teenagers fight for their right to stay alive. In the months following an attack on their lives, danger still lurks around them. Those behind the original strike have risen from the ashes, and new powers are beginning to reveal themselves. With this mysterious threat imminent, Mara, Miyuki, and the rest of the Unusuals must stand together to fight. However, time is running out for the group because someone, or something, is hunting them, and this time around, not all of them will survive.
Miyuki is a return to dangerous, secretive Jericho, a town where people who are different are feared and quite often hunted down, a town where some rather unusual teenagers are fighting back while also winging it a bit.
The group is back, complete with Mara, Miles, Miyuki, Chris, Alex, and Terry. After meeting The Stranger and knowing what he's up to, they continue training in order to fight back, to push back, to save the others like them and put a stop to the death and slaughter. Mara's continued anger at her brother fuel her need for revenge and she struggles to move on from it, to focus on the task at hand, but it sounds like there's something dark in her past concerning him. Miyuki is focused more on finding others like them and keeping them safe. Like before, the two girls clash, perhaps because they both want to be in charge, both attempt to direct the action and their mission.
Enemies abound in this story both old and new. Danger is always following them, watching them. People are still after the Unusuals, wanting to find them, stop them, kill them. Things get dangerous rather quickly.
It felt like things were happening a lot faster in this book than in the first book. There is some back story at the beginning, some reminding, but then it seems to jump right into the action, right into the suspense and the fighting. Now that they know what they are, that they're not alone, that they're hunted, they're forced to fight for their lives. I hope that the next installment will come soon because, after that ending, I'm desperate to know what happens next. And I'm still shocked about who died. Wow....more
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crimeSeventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance. But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father—a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?
Killer Instinct is mysterious, thrilling, and full of tension. This is a journey into the psyche of a killer you'd never want to some up against, and a race against time to stop said killer and save all the would-be victims without becoming one of them.
Cassie is back, trying to solve murders, trying to navigate a house full of gifted but slightly broken teens. Trying to fix everything and understand everyone. Which is frustrating, considering she lives in a house of people with secrets and hidden motives. It's a complicated web of truth and lies. And Cassie wants to help, she genuinely does, but more than a few of them don't want her kind of help. The pure and honest kind.
There are a fair number of complicated relationships in this book involving almost every single character. Cassie, Dean, Michael, Lia, Briggs, Sterling. The FBI. As much as it's about solving cases, catching murderers, understanding what motivates people towards good or evil, this book is about the relationships people have. How they connect with each other, what they get out of that connection, and what they do with it.
What motivates criminals to become criminals, into committing arson, assault, rape, or murder? Do you really want to know? Do you really want to learn to think how they do, to think about what they think about? This is what Cassie does, but is it really for the best? What if there's a mind she gets into and can't escape from?
I was a bit lost at the beginning, not remembering everything that had happened previously, but enough was mentioned that I easily fell back into this series. And so little is known about the others, anyways. Cassie is slowly learning more and more about them over time, her fellow Naturals and the FBI agents, so you're never really left out of the loop. This felt just as tense and dangerous as the first book, so fans shouldn't worry.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Disney-Hyperion through NetGalley.)...more
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leAnda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.
In Real Life is an exploration of many things. Gaming, economics, friendship, wealth, poverty, labour, heroes and villains. There are two worlds, both in real life and in gaming: what's on the surface, the sparkle and excitement that's constantly promoted, and what's underneath, the downtrodden. When Anda glimpses that underneath side, she learns the hard way that nothing is easy, that right and wrong aren't simple terms anymore, and that fighting back isn't always the answer.
Anda is a sweet girl. She's nice, and she's a bit lonely, she doesn't seem to have many friends beyond those who play D&D. When she's introduced to Coarsegold she's found her place to be, a place where she can expressive and happy, where she can meet new people who like the same things she does. All she sees is the camaraderie, the working together.
It's not that big a part in the book, but there's a moment near the beginning that I found interesting. When Coarsegold is first introduced, the girls in Anda's class are asked if they game, and then if they game as female characters. Out of the three shown, none of the girls keep their hands raised. After reading Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff earlier this year, a book about a teenage guy who games as a female character in a game similar to Coarsegold, I found this moment curious. Girls are playing as guys and guys are playing as girls. It's an interesting look at how we want to appear to others online, and at gender.
Anda certainly gets a crash course in economics, labour, and poverty here, learning that gamers will pay other gamers in real life currency to obtain special items and in game currency for them. That that's how some people, like the teenager in China she meets through the game, make money to live. That they have to farm gold for others because their current job pays so little and provides no benefits. Her way of living now seems luxuriant: living in a house with her parents, a computer, good food, a car, good health benefits through her father's job thanks to a recent strike and resolution. Not everyone has the freedom to strike against their employers as they do in countries like the US, Canada, and England (to name a few, I'm sure there are many more). This is eye-opening to Anda, and she knows she can't leave it like this.
While exciting and entertaining, bright and colourful, this book also hits on some harsh truths and consequences, some we forget when wrapped up in the bright lights of games. Anda's story is one of learning, of consequences, of economics, of wealth and poverty, of human rights, and of friendship.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from First Second through NetGalley.)...more
I couldn't finish this. Too many things felt strange and out of place, like (view spoiler)[Jackie not being told about Katherine's 12 kids until theyI couldn't finish this. Too many things felt strange and out of place, like (view spoiler)[Jackie not being told about Katherine's 12 kids until they were flying (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[Katherine's kids not being told Jackie was coming until that day (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[Jackie being introduced to the Walter kids poolside (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[Jackie willingly hanging around Cole after he's been patronizing, rude, and inconsiderate (hide spoiler)]. Or even (view spoiler)[Jackie calling a friend to cry/complain and mentioning that, a month after her parents died, one of the most important things is that she hadn't been to Starbucks in a couple of days (hide spoiler)].
Too much drama and not enough explaining the situation. I'm sure some will like this book, after reading some reviews, but it wasn't the book for me.["br"]>["br"]>...more
Ella's grade eleven year was a disaster, but as summer approaches, things are looking up. She's back together with her brooding boyfriend, Samir, althElla's grade eleven year was a disaster, but as summer approaches, things are looking up. She's back together with her brooding boyfriend, Samir, although they both want to keep that a secret. She's also best buddies with David and still not entirely sure about making him boyfriend number two. Though part of her wants to conform to high school norms, the temptation to be radical is just too great. Managing two secret boyfriends proves harder than Ella expected, especially when Samir and David face separate family crises, and Ella finds herself at the center of an emotional maelstrom. Someone will get hurt. Someone risks losing true love. Someone might finally learn that self-serving actions can have public consequences. And that someone is Ella.
Capricious is honest, expressive, and emotional. This is what I imagine when I think of the hardships and terrible times, the jealousies and slurs of the teenage years. This is the struggle to find the balance between who we want to be and who the world wants us to be, straddling the line and trying to keep from falling to the ground.
Ella, Raphaelle, is explosive, controversial, and opinionated, and I would have her no other way. Her individuality is what breathes life into this book. Her desires, her sadness, her fears, her dreams and nightmares. She is the explosion at the centre, painful and impossible to look away from. She continues to try and find her place in life, continues to test bits and pieces in order to piece together who she is. Her family continues to not understand her, her classmates continue to find her overwhelming, and the boys in her life continue to find her appealing. But she thinks that having two boyfriends could be interesting, could be just the thing to do now after everything blew up in her face in the previous book.
By keeping both Samir and David and secret kind of maybe boyfriends, Ella receives a number of things. With them, she can be different. She can be closer to who she wants to be. But life is never easy like that. Life does not often forgive those who choose to be audacious.
What I love about verse novels is how they are both sparse and expressive. Every word has a purpose, has meaning, but only so many words are given to the reader in order to tell the story. Less words for such a large story. And it works as it did with Audacious. Ella's pain and confusion coat each and every page.
What does it mean to be capricious? To be subject to an odd notion or unpredictable change, to be erratic. But what can we be as teenagers if not capricious, if not audacious? Are we supposed to know, by glorious miracle, how to act what to wear how to speak where to work so we don't make mistakes? No, we're not. This book is filled with experiences good and bad, lovely and painful, and it's supposed to be. Ella is supposed to be audacious, capricious, adventurous, impudent, daring, foolish. Because Ella can do anything....more